In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) (now the UKHSA) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) launched a pioneering Wastewater Surveillance Operation for tracking SARS-CoV-2 prevalence and Variants of Concern (VOC). This innovative project required expert strategic guidance and operational expertise to reach its full potential, providing vital information to Public Health Directors, regional institutional leaders, and Senior Cabinet Office members.
Servita was chosen to work alongside the JBC and DHSC due to their robust experience and reputation for excellence. Their tasks included the design, set-up, and operation of the comprehensive surveillance operation. Collaborating with Local Authorities, regional water companies, and UKAS accredited laboratories, Servita crafted an optimal approach leveraging all available local intelligence. This ranged from sampling frequency and sample type to data visualisation and trend analysis solutions.
In response to the rapid development of the pandemic, Servita also introduced a Mobile Lab Solution. This novel approach uses proven qPCR and high-speed centrifugal lab equipment to cut the typical lag time from sample collection to result receipt from 4-7 days to real-time.
Servita’s contributions to the Wastewater Surveillance Operation have enabled a myriad of benefits. Their work has provided crucial insights for policymaking and facilitated non-intrusive measurements of COVID-19 prevalence. By detecting asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases, the operation functions as an early warning system for outbreaks and provides an enhanced monitoring mechanism for the effectiveness of vaccination programmes.
This extensive surveillance capability, along with real-time prevalence insights, bolsters national, regional, and community responses to COVID-19. Servita’s strategic partnership with the JBC and DHSC exemplifies the power of collaboration and innovation in addressing global health crises. Through their work, the UK has set a precedent in pandemic response strategies, demonstrating resilience, ingenuity, and readiness for future health challenges.